We have been forgotten: the Ukrainian political prisoner Oleksii Bessarabov addressed the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken 

18 / 05 / 2021

Krym.Realii, Radio Liberty published the text of Bessarabov’s address. 

Oleksii Bessarabov expresses his sorrow because, as he believes, people have forgotten about the Ukrainian political prisoners, who had been illegally imprisoned by Russia and the Russian occupying authorities in Crimea. 

“No matter that my name, as well as names of dozens of other political prisoners, are included into lists of human rights organizations such as Freedom House, ‘Memorial,’ we have been almost forgotten. Only our friends, relatives, colleagues remember about us. We have been forgotten because Crimean problems are not discussed within the ‘Normandy format’ or Minsk agreements. Those formats only relate to the occupied Donbas. But not Crimea. Oleh Sentsov is free. But the ‘Sentsov’s list’ still exists. Moreover, it includes more and more names all the time,” – writes Oleksii Bessarabov in his address. 

In addition, Bessarabov believes that the main topic of future negotiations between the presidents of Ukraine, the US, and Russia should be an unconditional release by Russia of all illegally imprisoned persons. Such release can restore at least a minimal level of trust between the leaders. 

“There are examples of this. In particular, there is a US experience of solving the conflict in Afghanistan. They fulfilled the principle: first we release and exchange people ‘all for all,’ and then comes political solution… In the case of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, there are only partial releases. The last one happened in 2019 and only related to Donbas, not Crimea,” – writes Bessarabov.  

Finally, Oleksii Bessarabov expressed a hope that the US pressure might help release the Ukrainian political prisoners. 

Oleksii Bessarabov had been arrested in Sevastopol on November 9th, 2016, within the so-called “case of subverters.” Dmytro Shtiblikov and Volodymyr Dudka were the other two people arrested within that case that same day. The occupying authorities accused the arrested of preparation for subversions in Crimea under the order of the Ukrainian intelligence. 

On April 4th, 2019, the Russia-controlled Sevastopol municipal “court” found Bessarabov guilty of an alleged preparation for subversions and illegal keeping of self-made explosives. Bessarabov was sentenced to 14 years in a maximum-security penal colony. He was also fined 300 thousand RUB. 


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